MLBits: Baseball's Top Prospect Called Up, MIL Win Streak, Matheny's LOL Challenge, Judge, Ohtani, Harvey, More

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MLBits: Baseball’s Top Prospect Called Up, MIL Win Streak, Matheny’s LOL Challenge, Judge, Ohtani, Harvey, More

Chicago Cubs

After seeing the way top prospects have come up and immediately dominated in recent years, it’s been my fantasy baseball strategy to draft at least one of the top bats and arms expected to debut later that season.

But when my 2018 draft concluded a little over a month ago, I was frustrated to miss out on Ronald Acuna, and all the promise he comes with. I had since gotten over the draft whiff, but now the pain is coming back, because Acuna is coming up and he looks ready to go:

  • Indeed, according to Mark Bowman (, Acuna, baseball’s top prospect, is scheduled to make his Major League debut in left field later today at just 20 years and 128 days old. And with that he’ll become the youngest player to appear in an MLB game this season, surpassing teammate Ozzie Albies. Oh, and he’s not coming in cold, either. Acuna was working on an eight-game hitting streak at Triple-A, slashing .333/.405/.455 (152 wRC+) during that stretch. I hope he absolutely kills it … but also, sorta, not?
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
  • The stupid Brewers have won seven games in a row, but it’s worth pointing out that they have the same number of losses as St. Louis and Chicago, as they’ve played two more games than the Cardinals and four more than the Cubs. They’re still projected to finish with ten more loses than the Cubs, but that is an improvement from the start of the season. They’re hot, and beating the teams they should be beating. What can ya say?
  • With the game tied in St. Louis last night, Jay Bruce launched a 400-foot home run in the top of the tenth that gave the Mets a 1-run lead. And then some funny business started. Despite having already used his challenge earlier in the game, Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny convinced the umpires to review whether Bruce touched first on his trip around the bases. Surely it must have been really close, right? To push for such an unusual and extraordinary review? Um, LOL:

  • Okay, so CLEARLY he stepped on the base, and, fortunately, that’s exactly how it was called, but the Cardinals are still taking some heat for this. While it’s true that umpires can review plays even if a team is out of challenges, usually it’s because the umpire didn’t see something or was unsure about his own call. This play, however, was not only VERY clear, it proves that the umpire was either 1. not paying close enough attention, or 2. taking Matheny’s word for it (which is a lot more like a straight up challenge than an umpire-driven choice). But at this point, honestly, whatever. It’s just funny how wrong he was.
  • Although I’m still a little sad over missing out, at least Shohei Ohtani is putting on an absolute show in the Major Leagues:

  • That’s him hitting his spot with a 101 MPH hour four-seamer, one pitch before dropping a 91 MPH splitter at the bottom of the zone, which looks identical out of his hand. I honestly don’t know how you can protect against that other than straight-up guessing. In related news, it was good to see Ohtani back on the mound and healthy after he left his start last week with a blister. Blisters are nagging injuries than can last way too long if left untreated, and I don’t want to go too long without seeing more highlights from this young man.
  • There’s just too much to love:

  • Matt Harvey made his first appearance as a full-time reliever last night, and it wasn’t terrible – he faced nine batters over 2.0 innings pitched, allowing one earned run on two hits and a walk against two strikeouts – but he also doesn’t seem thrilled about it:

  • If ever there was a guy who needs a change of scenery, boy is it Matt Harvey. He’s a free agent after this season.
  • On the other side of New York, Aaron Judge is not disappointing in his sophomore season:

  • Sure, he might be slugging a little less, but he’s still ripping the cover off the ball. And in the meantime, he’s hitting for a higher average and getting on base even more often than last season. I’ll admit I didn’t completely buy that he’d be his 2017-self this season, but so far … yo. Good for him.
  • And the funny this is he isn’t even the best offensive performer on his team. And, no, it isn’t Giancarlo Stanton. Didi Gregorius is currently slashing .347/.442/.787 with 8 homers, a 15.8% walk rate and a 9.5% strikeout rate. That’s good for a 217 wRC+, which is the top mark in baseball by a fair margin. And he’s doing historic things, too:

  • By the way, the only guy separating Gregorius and Judge in the offensive production rankings is Manny Machado. He’s slashing .360/.447/.708 (209 wRC+) this season and has been the fourth most valuable player overall. Because of that, his expiring contact and the Orioles 6-17 record, Craig Edwards writes that a Machado-trade is inevitable. Adding that perhaps it should even happen sooner than later. As we know, the Orioles tried to move Machado in the offseason, but couldn’t find the right price. Moving him now is more difficult in some ways – rosters and budgets are set for the time being – but he’s also squashed any concerns that he can’t still be an elite player. The Cubs were reportedly interested in trading for Machado at the time, but I doubt they make a move for him in-season. Especially not with the way the offense has been cooking. After the season in free agency? If they can coordinate some other moves? It’s not *impossible* that they’d be involved.
  • Adrian Beltre left Tuesday’s game against the A’s with a strained left hamstring, which is really too bad, because he was killing it once again this year and is still one of the funniest and most enjoyable players in baseball:

  • Seriously, if you get a chance, watch him juggle a ball (terribly (on purpose?)), make Jed Lowrie laugh for trying to throw him out, and then try to steal second *and* third on after a foul ball … all in one game. He’s the best.
  • And finally, former Cub Christian Villanueva is still killing it this season (.355/.444/.744; 1.4 WAR) and it’s making me sweat. Sure, it’s been just 72 plate appearances and his .441 BABIP is going to come down, but his defense is being underrated and it’s not like he doesn’t have the potential to be very good. If you have the stomach for it, Travis Sawchik explores his new-found relevancy at FanGraphs. Enjoy. [Brett: Maybe he’d have become an asset with the Cubs – even if we ignore the broken leg, super long recovery, and no roster spot for a guy who hadn’t played in a year – but if they still had him, he never would have had this kind of chance to show things off at the big league level anyway. In other words, there’s no realistic version of reality where he stays with the Cubs *and* becomes this good for even a few weeks at the big league level. It just couldn’t and wouldn’t have happened, so nothing was lost when he opted to sign a minor league deal with the Padres instead of return to the Cubs. Feel a little better now?]

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami